Bitless?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 11-24-2008, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
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I was wondering what sort of options there are out there for bitless bridles. I've never really learned much about bitless bridles and want to know what the advantages and disadvantages are? Why would somebody choose a bitless bridle over a bitted one, and the other way around? If anybody has ever ridden with a bitless bridle or knows anything about the topic, I'd like to hear what you have to say. =] Thanks in advance!

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post #2 of 25 Old 11-24-2008, 11:41 PM
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I think going bitless is great if your horse has tooth or mouth problems that make it uncomfortable to carry the bit. Even if a horse just doesn't like the bit, sometimes it is best to go bitless. If you are looking, I would suggest a rawhide bosal or loping bridle. I would make sure to avoid any mechanized "hackamores" because lots of times, they can be more severe than the bit. Lot's of people swear by the "bitless bridles" that everyone raves about but I personally don't like the pinching action on your horse's head. As for advantages and disadvantages, all those stem from how your horse is trained. Some things work better for people than others.

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post #3 of 25 Old 11-25-2008, 01:14 PM
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I am at work and don't currently have the time to search up the topic, but if you go thru the threads, you will find an entire topic dedicated to bitless bridles along with many different opinions and views of people who used them :)

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post #4 of 25 Old 11-26-2008, 09:51 AM
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i use a side pull, instead of a regular bridle becuase of my heavy hands, but that is getting lighter so it might get replaced before to long.

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post #5 of 25 Old 11-26-2008, 09:59 AM
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My mare was in a waterford snaffle and going reasonably well, she has no mouth problems. I have now put her in a bridle similar to Dr Cooks and she is fantastic. She would rear up in anything that used pressure points such as the poll, like a pelham for example but was too strong for a regular snaffle. She went well in her waterford for a while but then began to hang on the bit and picked up a few other bad habits. Now she doesn't do this because she has no bit to hang on, she has fantastic breaks and works in a better outline. She also calms down quicker if something spooks her. My main reason for changing to this bridle was that I have gone all natural including buying a treeless saddle and these bridles are so kind on your horse as they squeeze the whole head gently instead of pulling at the mouth or using pressure points. Hope this helps.

There seem to be a lot more people looking into bitless bridle, its good to see.
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post #6 of 25 Old 11-26-2008, 11:11 AM
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I use a Parelli hackamore which works great. my horse listens so much better since I've ridden in it. All it is, is a flexable rope halter (NOT the stiff Double Diamond brand) with a lead tied on as reins. I think they work extremely well!
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post #7 of 25 Old 11-26-2008, 11:53 AM
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- No bit to warm up in the wintertime
- If the horse physically can't carry a bit comfortably, this is a good alternative

- Personally when I see a horse going bitless, I think "well, why can't it work in a bit?" Of course if it can work in a bit as well as a bitless, my opinion changes, but if the horse only works in a bitless, that's a big red flag for me.
- Many types of competition won't allow bitless bridles
- Many times a rider switches to bitless in lieu of finding out what's really wrong with the horse; i.e. if the horse tosses the head while being ridden, it could be a saddle or headstall fit problem, or maybe the horse's teeth need to be done, or perhaps there's something going on that requires a chiropractor... and they switch to a bitless instead of getting to the root of the problem.

There are many different kinds of bitless bridles:
- Bosals
- Hackamores (Parelli does NOT fall into this category, his "hackamore" is just a rope halter, it is NOT a hackamore.)
- Sidepulls
- English bitless (basically a sidepull, but for English horses)
- "Name brands" like Nurtural Horse, Dr Cook, etc.

Keep in mind that a bit is NOT an evil torture device.... ha.

Why are you thinking of switching to bitless in the first place? (out of plain curiosity)

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post #8 of 25 Old 11-26-2008, 11:56 AM
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I had a Dr Cooks bridle and my horses went well in it, The Bitless Bridle by Dr. Robert Cook, FRCVS, Ph.D. I recently purchased a Nurtural No-Bit bitless bridle and so far I think I like it better! My mare doesn't lean on it like should would on occassion with the Cook bridle and she is responding to lighter cues.

Moss Rock also makes a cross-under style bitless, Moss Rock Endurance - Custom Biothane Tack, Trail Riding Gear called the Freedom Bridle.

Other options include side pulls, bosals, mechanical hackamore, jumping hackamore (a side-pull nose band that attaches to any bridle), or a rope halter/bridle.

All are great for trail riding or hacking, but most aren't acceptable for show. You'll need to check with your local show organization(s) to see what's allowable for the events that you do.

I prefer bitless for trail riding. It allows my horse to munch on grass or things when I say it's okay without worrying about the bit. I also don't worry about catching the horse's mouth if they spook and I snatch the reins. I use a bitless when people come over to ride my horses too, as I don't want them yanking around on their mouths. My daughter is just learning to canter and wants to learn to jump, so we'll use the bitless for her lessons, so she doesn't bother the horse if her hands are jerky.

I use a bit for serious training and for shows; all of the events we do require a bit.

Last edited by luvs2ride1979; 11-26-2008 at 11:59 AM.
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post #9 of 25 Old 11-26-2008, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by JustDressageIt View Post
- Hackamores (Parelli does NOT fall into this category, his "hackamore" is just a rope halter, it is NOT a hackamore.)
JDI, just because you don't agree with it being called a Hackamore, doesn't mean it isn't. Whether you want to believe it or not, it is a hackamore and enough said. Just because you don't like Parelli, doesn't give you the right to bash it.

I think the impression of a horse riding bitless depends on the alot of people it's "wow you can ride your horse without a bit? I wish I could do that with my horse" or as JDI pointed out, "what's wrong with the horse that it can't be ridden in a bit".
I like riding in my hackamore because it teachs my horse to listen to more subtle cues and my seat more.

With any bitless bridle or hackamore, some can be fairly costly...I'd suggest, if possible, borrow one from a friend before investing money in it to see if you're happy with it. Not sure if all or any are refundable if you aren't happy with it or if it doesn't work with your horse

EDIT: Wanted to add also, like luvs2ride, I also use a bitless while friend's are riding my horse. I don't know how they are with horses and don't want Sonny to get hurt because they don't know how to handle a bit

Last edited by SonnyWimps; 11-26-2008 at 12:07 PM. Reason: to add something
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post #10 of 25 Old 11-26-2008, 12:11 PM
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A general "Hackamore" is ANY type of bridle that doesn't have a bit. Bosals, Side pulls, and any other bitless bridle falls into this catagory.

A MECHANICAL Hackamore is one that has shanks on the sides and some kind of curb strap or chain. No, Parreli's Hackamore isn't a mechanical hack, but it can still fall under the general category of "Hackamores." (barely)

I think it's silly that Parreli calls his rope HALTER a "Hackamore," but that's just my personal opinion ;).

Come on now, just look at it... That is a Rope HALTER! It's fine if you want to ride in it, but it's silly to call it anything else but a halter...

Parelli is a marketing genius, lol. He has so many "gadgets" that he sells at ridiculous prices, and contradicts himself by saying gag bits are bad, yet coming out with his own like of gag bits with Myler... His whole enterprise is "silly," but that's hard to see when you're entrenched in it ;).

Last edited by luvs2ride1979; 11-26-2008 at 12:14 PM.
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